Tuesday, 12 October 2010


Glazed pork ribs with pears and fennel
It’s been quite a past week, food-wise.  The lady says it’s all part of my ongoing plan to fatten her up for nefarious reasons of my own, but I swear to god, if it is, it’s a plan that’s conspicuously failing to work.  I guess we’re both just blessed with good genes, fat-wise, for which we must both thank our parents, but the fact that nothing in our house gets cooked in butter, or with added cream has to be a major contributory factor, and for that I must thank the lady and her dairy allergy.  We certainly make no particular effort to avoid fat, or, in particular, fatty cuts of meat.  In fact, quite the contrary.  Like the roasted pork ribs we had on Sunday, or the oxtail we had with gnocchi for the lady’s birthday eve dinner (see separate post below).  In fact I have an entirely unscientific theory involving "good" fats and "bad" fats, that may yet have a deal of truth in it - certainly, I'm sure, if there's no processed food whatsoever in your diet, then you've created space for a lot of outdoor reared pork belly.  And you cook everything in olive oil, not butter, then you can add a fair bit more...
I had intended to do a chinese style marinade for the pork ribs, but I'd picked up some pears from the farmer’s market, which were beautiful but remained resolutely hard, and they eventually changed my mind.  I marinaded the ribs for a few hours in salt, pepper, mustard powder, garlic, chilli and ginger, brown sugar, a sprinkling of fennel seeds and a splash of cider vinegar, then roasted them with the pears – starting off with just the ribs in the roasting dish with a half glass of cider poured over them, the oven good and hot (225 or so) for fifteen minutes, then turning it down (to around 180) and pushing the pears, peeled, halved and cored, and wedges of fennel, in between the ribs and the dish, for another forty, until the ribs were glazed and sticky, and the meat soft on the bones, but the pears still holding firm.

Rib of beef roasted with potatoes and shallots, and pickled red cabbage
The ribs were just the start of a week in which roast meat featured heavily, with grouse and mutton at St John for the lady’s birthday (see separate post below) on Thursday, then two big beef ribs, rubbed in salt, pepper, mustard powder, thyme and olive oil, and roasted rare for dinner with friends on Friday, and then pot roast partridge at The Magdalen Arms in Oxford for a family get together on Saturday.  All rounded off with a Guinea Fowl stuffed with chesnut and apple for a late lunch/early dinner for the two of us back home on Sunday.

Even roast fruit - pears, peaches & apricots in marsala to follow the roast beef
I did the guinea fowl on the rotisserie, which is perhaps the thing I love most about my oven.  It's a bit of added faff, and a definite hand burning hazard when it comes to removing the roasted bird, but the finished result is so crisp and golden on the outside, moist and juicy within that it's well worth the effort and the risk.  And I have to admit it's fun in a slightly gadget freaky kind of way.  The stuffing was half a leek and a stick of celery, diced and softened in olive oil with one peeled and diced apple, about 8 chesnuts that the lady's parents brought home from Italy, blanched (just slit the shells with a knife and boil in a pan of water for about five minutes, it makes peeling so much easier), shelled and roughly chopped, a handful of breadcrumbs and a bunch of sage leaves (6 or 8, roughly chopped).  That made enough for a good couple of heaped tablespoons to go into the birds cavity, and about the same agin to go into the freezer for next time.  And I can't wait for next time, because damn it was good.

guinea fowl and stuffing on the board...
...and on the plate

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